Life as I know It

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San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Needle*Thread* Quilt* Bliss

This quilt, which combines the traditional lone star pattern with applique borders and surrounding appliqued design, greeted us in the entry hall of my girlfriend's home. I think (judging by the fabrics) that it may be from the third quarter of the 19th century. Let me know what you think.

Dear friends,

Twice a year six lifelong girlfriends gather for a long weekend. And I mean long. We talk, eat, explore, stay up too late, laugh, cry, gripe, create new memories, and remember back to when we were kids in grammar school, middle school, high school, and beyond. These women know my worst faults and foibles, yet they still love me as I do them.

This spring's meeting was in San Diego at the home of a friend who is a quilter. One of our major outings planned was to the Visions Art Museum, which is a non-profit, international organization "dedicated to the promotion and appreciation of the quilt as fine art." It fulfills its promise beautifully. I hope that you will take time to visit this magnificent little gem of a museum the next time you are in the San Diego area.

The museum presents four major exhibitions a year. We were fortunate to see "Art Meets Science-A traveling exhibition from Studio Art Quilt Associates." My girlfriends and I spent time studying the quilts closely (they provide you with white cotton gloves so you can turn the quilts over and examine them). We were all so inspired by the creativity and craftsmanship evident in each quilt. I only wish I could share all of them, but at least here you can see some of my favorites, which I was allowed to photograph (without a flash) so that I could share them with all of you.

FYI, the museum has an impressive schedule of workshops, lectures, and other activities at its location in the fun NTC (the old Naval Training Center) Promenade in Point Loma, the arts and culture district of Liberty Station in San Diego, California. Surrounding this small museum are many others, also shopping and great restaurants. We feasted at Tender Greens and sat outdoors on the patio.

Entry hall, gift shop to left (they have an impressive collection of quilting books), gallery to the right. 

Girlfriends Kim and Kathie study the quilts. You can see how small they are (the quilts, not necessarily Kim and Kathie)

A Space Odyssey
 Sally Wright

Global Warming 1: Greenfields
Lili Christensen

Cells Dreaming
R. Kwong

Nature's Fractal
Frankie Kohler

Southern Hospitality
Nancy Cook

Virus H5N1
Anita Welty

Glial Neuron Conversations
Susan Jackan

Beyond Imagination
Cecile Trentini
I have to comment that if you could see the tiny stitches and detail in the black, well, you'd be humbled by the talent and skill.

Beautiful Worms (of course I LOVE the subject)
Aileyn Renli Ecob

Wood Cells 
Deborah Weir

Primordial Soup
Carol Churchill

Close-up of detail work

In the Beginning
Rebecca Kemble

High Water
Suzanne Mouton Riggio

Lipid Cells
Virginia Abrams

Susan Brubaker Knapp

Blue Boobs are Best
Sara Kelly
What's this all about? Blue boobs? Huh? This is a copy of a mammogram and the blue signifies healthy, non-cancerous breasts. Hurrah!

We all picked our favorites and Kim chose
Archeology Fragments 
Kevan Lunney

The Sierpinski Triangle Interpreted
Rebecca Kemble

Look at some of the delicious fabrics and the use of beads

I came home feeling refreshed, excited, and enthusiastic about a list of projects I want to tackle now that I'm finished with my book (this one at least). Trips like this are a necessity. Soul food. Sometimes girls just need to be girls, and that's what we were (and are). We had a ball.

Sending love across the miles,


P.S. The winner of the Gardener's Supply bird feeder is: Priscilla Palmer. Priscilla, please e-mail me your shipping address.

P.P.S. As a quilt inspired give-away, I will draw a name for this wonderful, easy-to-care-for cow, complete with quilted udders. She is fashioned from a late 19th century quilt that was in tatters and beyond saving. Leave a comment to be eligible for the drawing of this sweet quilted cow. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Three Speckled Hens

I couldn't pass up this big platter, which is a sea-foam green/blue that is my weakness (one of them)

Three Speckled Hens
Just for fun

Last Saturday, I put aside my brushes, pens, and paper and headed to the wonderful antique/flea market put on by three talented women, Carrie Millan, Susi Fuller, and Kathy Marquart, who call themselves Three Speckled Hens

The ladies are great business women, motivated, high energy souls who wanted to create an antique show for lovers of all things country. Their strong personalities and work ethics have turned this event into one of the most anticipated events along the California coastline. It was so much FUN!

The day was perfect, and for the first time in awhile, I was free-as-and-free-of-the-birds. 

Normally, I am out of town this time of year, but this spring has been devoted to my book, so no scheduling has been made. I finally got to enjoy an afternoon at the Paso Robles MidState Fairgrounds in the company of some dynamic and lively folks.

One of my favorite tents (below) was Atelier de Campagne. Everyone loved this show of French home and garden antiques.

The funky tin buckets, which I loved, are used for washing olives. I can think of lots of ways to use them in a home. I also love the bottle drying rack to the left of them. Wouldn't this be great holding terra cotta pots of all sizes?

Shopping with husbands is the pits. "Where are you going to use that?" is a familiar refrain.

The tin, house-shaped thing in the middle is...

...a GREAT, old-fashioned dehydrator from Gray Duck Antiques. Solar style. What could be more classic? I wanted it, but to tell the truth, I don't know WHERE I would put it. I guess I need a big barn.

For some reason, I love dust pans. Jeff says it is because I am so danged focused on keeping things neat and clean. Anyhow, he totally got why I bought this oversized dust pan. It is hand-made of tin and wood. I left it twice, returned, carried it around, and finally gave in and bought it (from Gray Duck).

Bulb baskets from Holland (Atelier de Campagne)

I was happy to see Karrie Machado's Serendipity at the show. They have one of my favorite shops along the Central Coast. Located in historic old-town Arroyo Grande. You'll have happy browsing there!

A great, never-been-used, vintage California tablecloth in the booth of Barbara Grigg (she also had the platter that I bought. LORI ANN, you would've LOVED this day!

Meet the Three Hens and the little chickie holding the copy of Flea Market Style magazine is the editor-in-chief Ki Nassauer. She has a creative eye that turns what is overlooked into a highlight of a home.

I'm going to end this posting with a short video, but first let me announce the winner of The Birding Life, published by Clarkson Potter.

CONGRATULATIONS to KJ, Options for a Better World


Thanks to all of you who participated! Leave a comment on this posting, and you're eligible for a give-away of a blue Moon Birdfeeder from Gardener's Supply Company of Burlington, Vermont. 


Paso Robles is not only a wine and olive oil region, but also a horse lover's paradise. We have cowboys and round-ups happening around us all the time. 

We had an unexpected musical treat in the booth of Barbara Grigg. We met Cow Bop performer  Pamela Forman, who serenaded us with a good, old-time yodel. She is also a great singer and performs with her group throughout the country. 

Also, please stop by my recent Lowe's Creative Ideas blog (top row) and leave a valued comment.

Joys to you all,


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Feather Your Nest

Bird's nest cookies simple enough for a four year old to create

Dear Friends,

Spring, birdsong, nest building, hidden eggs, and the magic of newborn birds. How could anyone not love this time of year?

A real bird's nest, which is NOT simple in any way!

To celebrate the season, we make simple bird's nests for our special family gatherings. These nests are easy enough for a four year old (with grown-up help) to make. They're featured in the cooking section of my book Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars

If you're like me, you do not feed your children much sugar, but I believe that "everything in moderation" is a good adage. Sometimes the forbidden becomes the desired. So, remember moderation and have fun making these sweet little nests.

Sometimes (it depends on the children) I add a bit of toasted coconut to the freshly formed nests. The coconut looks very twiggy and natural.

By necessity, this is a short, short posting. A big schedule crunch has me on the run, but I think things will return to normal by next week.

I'm happy to announce a series of winners of the give-aways I posted last week. The winner of the Gardener's Supply kneeler is: Dee Nash, Red Dirt Ramblings.

The five winners of the Peaceful Valley Farm Supply tins of seeds are: Jeri Landers (Hopalong Hollow Gazette), Martha Ellen (Anonymous), Donna Conghaile (Conghaile Cottage), Clarice (Storybook Woods), and (Bees, Birds, Berrries and Blooms). Winners, send us your mailing addresses. Please.

Last week, I received a FABULOUS book, The Birding Life-A Passion for Birds at Home and Afield from Clarkson Potter (this is a colorful, coffee table sized book). I literally lost myself in the glorious pages, which are filled with history, decorating, and the homes and studios of great bird artists like Audubon, Charley Harper, Kenn Kaufman, David Sibley, Julie Zickefoose, and others. I loved the profiles of irreplaceable ornithologists, such as Stephen Kress, who reestablished the puffins on Egg Island in Maine, and the personal collections of antique and contemporary carved birds featured in the homes of passionate and dedicated bird lovers. You will want to feather your nest after reading this book!

One of the treats in this book was seeing photos of Hog Island, Maine, which is where you can go to an old-fashioned camp to learn about the magical and amazing lives of birds. Years ago, I received a scholarship to Hog Island Ornithology Camp from the Audubon Society. Jeff and I spent a week studying birds outdoors, catching and banding them, and studying specimens in the lab and on the land and sea. 

If you're a bird lover, you will treasure this book. If you're just beginning to appreciate birds, well, this book could send you into the stratosphere. TO WIN THIS BOOK, simply leave a short comment on my blog about what birds mean to you and how they enrich your life. The winner be chosen next week by a random drawing. I feel so happy to pass this on to YOU.

All joys,